Master List of
New Directions Recommendations
Directions from the Field:
Rights and Services for the 21st Century
The recommendations below, which
appear in the May 1998 New Directions Report, have been reformatted
for replication and distribution.
|Despite the passage of Federal and State laws, restitution remains one of the most underenforced victims' right within the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Evidence of this is apparent both in decisions to order restitution and in efforts to monitor, collect, and disperse restitution payments to victims. However, national research studies indicate that restitution is a significant factor affecting the satisfaction of victims with the criminal and juvenile justice process. The prevailing belief among victims, service providers, and justice professionals is that restitution is not a punishment or an alternative to fines, sanctions, or interventions with the offender, but a responsibility to hold offenders partially or fully accountable for the financial losses suffered by the victims of their crime. In an effort to further advance this belief, the following recommendations addressing restitution are set forth by the field:
- Restitution orders should be
mandatory and consistent nationwide. Full restitution should include
all immediate and expected monetary costs of the crime to victims, including
property loss, health and mental health costs, and, when appropriate,
compensation for pain and suffering. When a victim cannot be identified
to receive restitution, judges should consider ordering payment to national,
State, or local victim assistance or compensation programs. Judges should
review restitution orders periodically to assess whether the victim
has incurred additional costs as a result of the crime and whether the
offender is making timely payments. Restitution payment plans should
include provisions for immediate payment of full restitution should
the offender obtain additional financial assets.
- A coordinated interagency response
throughout the justice system is essential for the effective collection
- Restitution must be a priority
for all criminal justice agencies if it is to be implemented successfully.
- Victims should be informed as
early as possible in the justice process of their right to receive restitution
from the offender. They should be notified of the disposition of the
case, advised of realistic expectations for payment, and provided with
information about their rights when offenders fail to pay.
- At the time of sentencing, courts
should have sufficient information about both the victim and the offender
to determine the amount of full restitution and a payment schedule.
- The use of technology can greatly
enhance the tracking and payment of restitution orders. Those responsible
for monitoring restitution should automate their program.
- Offenders should be held accountable
for restitution payments; State legislation should make restitution
payments a priority over other payments due from the offender, including
fines, fees, and restitution to entities other than the crime victim;
and restitution payments should be collected before fines or penalties.
- Corrections agencies, including
prisons, jails, probation departments, and paroling authorities, should
designate one person to be responsible for victim inquiries and contact
- A probation or parole officer's
proficiency in managing restitution cases should be a component of evaluating
his or her job performance.
- Failure to comply with a restitution
order should result in an extended sentence of the offender's community
- Civil remedies should be applied
on a routine and consistent basis to assist crime victims in collecting
- Victims should have the right
to petition to amend the payment schedule for restitution, the amount
of restitution ordered, and any failure to order restitution.
- Before the court modifies a
payment plan or makes other changes to a restitution order, it should
notify the victim and give them an opportunity to be heard on the matter.
|New Directions from the
Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century